The decisions to drop Illinois from the Powerball and Mega Millions rosters were reportedly reached this week earlier this week due to concerns about Illinois’ fiscal condition. Powerball is set to be suspended in the state after the draw on Wednesday 28th June, with Mega Millions also brought to a halt after the draw a couple of days later if a budget deal cannot be agreed.
Illinois Lottery Director Greg Smith said in a written statement: “It is disappointing that the Legislature's inability to pass a budget has led to this development and will result in Illinois Lottery players being denied the opportunity to play these popular games. This is why it's so critical the General Assembly deliver a balanced budget to the governor's desk that he can sign."
The Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which runs Powerball and Mega Millions, would not confirm that a decision had been made to end sales of the game. A spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune: “The Multi-State Lottery Association is focused on protecting the integrity of its games and the experience of its players. We work closely with the Illinois Lottery, and all lotteries selling Powerball, to achieve those objectives. ... Matters involving the Illinois Lottery should be directed to Illinois officials.”
Illinois is not authorised to make payments to the MUSL without a budget in place, and in 2015 it was found that state officials violated financial laws when they prepaid $20 million to the MUSL to cover the costs of future multi-state games as a budget stalemate loomed. The financial future of the state remains uncertain, although there are hopes that final action could be taken on a bill during a special session before the end of the month to help Illinois keep Powerball and Mega Millions.
Powerball is played in 44 states, plus Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, while Mega Millions is offered in 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Both games offer huge jackpots which attract attention from around the world, and Illinois will hope that any suspension is not long-term.